Q&A with Katy

Shawna asks: How old were you when you first identified yourself as a writer? What is your best fix for writer’s block?

*laughs* So that’s a tricky question. I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I went through some phases where I was convinced I was going to be a rockstar, a dirt-bike racer, a CIA agent, a marine biologist, an ambassador; but through all that it was the writing that kept a hold of me. The first story I wrote on my own was a retelling of Romeo and Juliet but I can’t remember exactly how old I was when that happened.

I’m relatively lucky in that I don’t get writer’s block. *shrugs* When I started approaching writing as a job rather than just a way to pass the time, it really shifted things. That was, without a doubt, the best advice I’ve ever gotten – to write like I had a deadline before I actually did.

Approaching writing like a job means I can’t afford “blocks.” Most of the time that means sitting on my ass in front of the keyboard until I figure out where things are going. On occasion if I’m getting really frustrated I’ll step away. My favorite activities are going for a run/hike or some other physical workout that lets my brain wander, or some kind of chore. *laughs* The catch is not to let yourself use those things as an excuse not to write and normally I just do them until inspiration strikes. In the end it’s really about discipline – if you want it bad enough you’ll get through it.

Annette asks: What’s your biggest fear as relates to writing?

Betraying the story.

I want to be able to write for a living, and while the idea of not getting published scares me to some degree, the thing that really frightens me is not being able to write the story the way it’s supposed to be. I’m a storyteller and while some people might scoff at me about this I honestly believe I’m as captive an audience as the reader. I am constantly shocked, amazed, terrified, ecstatic writing my own books as I am reading someone else’s.
That’s what I’m really afraid of – f***ing up the story. Telling it wrong. Missing something. Not being able to get the images in my head accurately

Lisa (the brat) asks: Just how far are you willing to go to research a book?

*laughs* I talked some in a previous post about my love of research. For me it’s one of the best things about being a writer. I get to be all the cool things I thought about doing while I was growing up – at least for a little while.

I suspect Lisa wants me to talk more about the insane things that I’ve done while researching stories – like gone for a ride-along with a firehouse. *grins* Which was fun. Or busted the crap out of my shins learning parkour. Which was also fun, but kind of painful.

Really there aren’t very many lines I’ll draw or things I won’t do when I’m researching a novel. I can tell you I thought briefly about having a friend knock me out with a choke hold when we were going over different forms you could use, but I decided against it because I thought my husband might get upset with me. 😀

I’ve been punched in the face in the name of research. I’ve gone rock-climbing even though I’m terrified of heights. I’ve got plans to do a ride-along with the Sherriff’s department at some point and I’ve got a friend in the county corner’s office who’s going to get me into an autopsy.

*grins* That might make me crazy. I’m okay with it.

Wendy asks: Okay, how in the world do you manage to keep sane and find time for work, both paid and unpaid, your crazy workout schedule, volunteering and having a personal life? You are still my hero on that one.

*laughs* Thanks ma’am. Honestly some days I’m not sure how I do it. (and some days I don’t do it) I guess a lot of it comes down to priorities and learning how to really figure out what’s the most important thing to you.

Writing has to come first for me. Thankfully I live with and am surrounded by people who understand how important it is to me and so I’ve got the opportunity to focus on it. (and the boots to kick me when I’m not 😀 )

The health thing has also been a priority for me and there’ve been times when I let it take precedence over the writing, but the two things aren’t really exclusive so I usually manage to find a way to work it in.

I also cut stuff out of my schedule depending on what’s going on. The volunteering has taken a backseat at the moment due to time constraints and a few other things. I’ve had to cut out a lot of reading, game-playing, hanging with friends, and TV watching since I started working full-time again.

What it really comes down to though is I don’t ever find the time for anything. I make time. I get up early, I go to bed late. I give up free-time in favor of something that’s more important. I spend a lot, and I mean a LOT, of my free-time writing.

Crystal asks: Who has influenced you the most in your writing style or methods?

I’m not entirely sure how to answer this. *laughs* I can’t really name one person who’s had a lot of influence on my writing style. Early on I know I emulated a lot of different authors that I loved. It’s pretty common for new writers, but eventually you’ve got to find your own voice. I was lucky enough to come to that realization early, so that I don’t feel like my writing style is particularly modeled after one author or another.

As for methods I’ve pretty much just went with what works for me. I’m not sure that I’ve specifically picked from one author or another. (Though I’m sure there are some out there who use the same methods I do!)

I have a range of favorite authors pretty much over the whole genre spectrum. I’m a huge Douglas Adams fan, as well as David Weber, John Ringo, Eric Flint, and Simon Green in the science fiction arena. Nora Roberts and Lauren Dane in the romance genre. Lilith Saintcrow, Yasmine Galenorn, Dennis McKiernan, and many others in the fantasy and urban fantasy worlds. There really are too many for me to name.

I can tell you that my friend Yasmine has been a huge help to me in terms of the business of writing. She’s been a fantastic mentor to me over the years and really helped me avoid some of the major pitfalls I think plagues new writers. I’ve gotten invaluable advice from her in regards to the discipline required, the mindset that’s going to help you survive release days, and the best way to deal with all the business-related aspects of writing most people don’t think about.*

*Please note: DO NOT email authors out of the blue asking them for writing advice. It’s bad form. I am lucky enough to have an established friendship with Yasmine and she offered me advice over the course of our relationship. Yasmine and a number of other authors do offer advice on their websites and blogs but direct emails are not cool. Most authors are not particularly comfortable with giving private advice to strangers.

Well, hopefully that was entertaining. *grins* Or at least mildly interesting. Feel free to chime in with more questions in the comments section and I’ll answer them as best as I can.

K.B. Wagers

11 responses to “Q&A with Katy

  1. Ha! Great fun interview!

    Totally agree with >> DO NOT email authors out of the blue asking them for writing advice.

    I get that, AND new writers asking me to read their work. I usually say, “Thanks, but my TBR is full.”

    I will sometimes do the above for people I know and have a relationship with, but rarely for someone that emails me out of the blue.


  2. I second Eden’s great fun interview. It gives us an inside look at Katy, the person & the writer.

    I get a lot of people asking me questions about writing and I try to answer the ones I can–always reminding them, that the advice i give is truly only my take, and not carved in stone.

    As for reading, damn, I end up reading a lot of spec screenplays and lately some unpublished novels–but then I do 1-on-1 mentoring for screenwriters on the side–If only I could get them all to pay me.

    Many of the folks that contact me are looking for instant gratification; which doesn’t always happen. I call a spade or a badly written screenplay, a spade or a badly written screenplay; however I try to be nice about it. 😉

    Great post.


    • Thanks Wally. 😀

      This is definitely not a profession for folks with thin skin. I think one of the first essential skills you need to learn is how to take constructive criticism well.

  3. I love this interview – it’s funny, it’s smart and it gives us an insight into both the possibilities – how do you keep writing if you don’t have a deadline? – and realities – how do you find time to write when your life is so complicated?

    Every writer has these problems and every writer’s solution is different. The thing that we have in common? We all have to figure out what works for us. And that sometimes takes years and, for many of us, we have to change it fairly regularly. But we do it. You know why?

    Writers write.

    We might not be published but we write. We might be raising and family and working but we write. We might feel like the story’s going nowhere but we write.

    That’s what we do. That’s who we are.


  4. … and we write.

    Really great interview, but honestly, Katy, getting punched in the face in the name of research? Unh-unh. Seriously, nope. Ain’t-a-gonna do it. If that were a requirement, I’d find another occupation.

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